N.J.: Poll Shows Menendez Leading Kean
Soon-to-be Sen. Bob Menendez (D) leads state Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R) by six points in the 2006 Senate race, according to a new Quinnipiac poll that's the first survey to be released on the budding race since New Jersey Gov.-elect Jon Corzine (D) announced the Menendez appointment last week.
Menendez holds a 44 percent to 38 percent edge over Kean -- the son of the popular former governor. Neither candidate is particularly well known statewide. Fifty-six percent of respondents said they did not know enough about Menendez to form an opinion; Kean was unknown by 61 percent. Those voters who did recognize the candidates felt generally favorable about them. Menendez had a 22 percent to 10 percent favorable/unfavorable score while Kean had a similar 20/8 rating.
The two parties viewed the results through very different lenses.
Phil Singer, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called the survey the "latest sign that the GOP's effort to hype Tom Kean, Jr.'s candidacy is just that -- hype."
Dan Ronayne of the National Republican Senatorial Committee said that survey shows "Tom Kean is in a great position to win this election." He added: "Corzine obviously thought twice about this pick, he maybe should have spent more time on it."
By roughly a two-to-one margin, those tested also approved of Corzine's choice of Menendez, who will become the first Latino senator from New Jersey when he is formally sworn in next month. Not surprisingly, Democrats approved of the pick by a 67 percent to 11 percent margin, and independents favored it 50 percent to 26 percent. Republicans disapproved of the pick by a 42 percent to 32 percent margin.
The positive feelings Democrats have about Menendez's selection were not entirely reflected when that same group was asked whether he should seek a full-six year term in 2006. Thirty-eight percent of Democrats said he should, 25 percent said either no or they preferred another candidate. Thirty-seven percent didn't know or didn't answer.
While those comparatively low numbers for Menendez are likely the result of his low name identification statewide, they may influence the decision-making of Reps. Rob Andrews and Frank Pallone, both of whom are weighing challenges to Menendez in next June's Democratic primary.
December 15, 2005; 3:26 PM ET
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